The “Dancing Baby” GIF represents a happier, more innocent time. It reached its apex in the back half of the 1990s, waving its chubby little arms in the air and hopping around on sausage-link legs on Ally McBeal before falling into disuse around the dawn of the new millennium. Before nü-metal and Napster reigned supreme, the “Dancing Baby” was the perfect symbol of early consumer-grade internet. We crowded around giant, humming CRT monitors and loaded GeoCities pages, delighting in the simple image of a CGI baby that just wanted to dance and dance and dance some more in a never-ending loop. We were innocent, dreaming of the wondrous future the “Dancing Baby” heralded.
Now, with more than two decades of internet horseshit beneath our belts, a Twitter user named Jack (@JArmstrongArt) has given us a high-definition remaster of the “Dancing Baby”—and a bittersweet reminder of what the free-spirited child used to represent.
While the creator of the “Dancing Baby” may regret the creature spawned from the union of his brain and computer, Jack understands that the footloose tyke deserved better than to languish in blurry ’90s obscurity. After posting the remastered GIF (scored to “Hooked On A Feeling,” as god and McBeal intended), Jack ran down the process by which the original baby was turned into the shinier, weirdly smooth version that 2020 deserves.
Jack describes being asked by a friend “to put ‘The Oogachaka Baby’” into the video game/pseudo-development tool Garry’s Mod and then digging around for the original file. It was eventually found (under the excellent name “SK_BABY.MAX”), and Jack was able to get it into Garry’s Mod and fiddle with the animation until the resulting HD baby was born.
The result is a triumphantly revitalized “Dancing Baby,” polished up and ready to groove on the screens of anyone hoping to escape into memories of when the internet itself was as fresh-faced and joyful as the GIF itself.
In true ’90s-internet spirit, Jack says the work was motivated by wanting to “[advance] the preservation efforts of the internet” and, to ensure the complete democratization of the baby, shared a download link to the files used in the remaster. This is good. We all need to be able to get to those files if the “Dancing Baby” is to be reared correctly. It takes a village, after all.
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